April 22, 2014 at 3:26 am #10123
Gypsy Wanderer HuskySurvivalist
Seeing everyone is getting ready to plant, this will help when harest time comes
If you are planting some root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips or beets, in your garden, here are a few tips for storing them through the winter.
If you mulch heavily to prevent the ground beneath the mulch from freezing, you’ll be able to leave your root crops in the ground to overwinter.
If you’d rather dig them up as you need them through the winter, just cover the area with a waterproof cover that will help prevent moisture from causing the ground to freeze.
You can also try burying a container, such as a cooler, in the ground before it freezes. Then pack your root veggies into the container with sand or straw, and pull them out as you need them for cooking.
Another option is to keep them in a cold corner of your garage or shed. A little frost can actually make them sweeter, as starches convert to sugar, but don’t let them freeze completely.
When looking for spots to store your root vegetables this winter, just experiment. Find any place! These crops are remarkably tolerant of cold. They’ll even stay fresh in the refrigerator for a very long time.
Here are a few tips for digging up and storing potatoes:
Once the plant turns crispy and brown and dead, the potatoes under the ground are finished growing. ( I suppose this is obvious.)
When the plant is crispy, you can leave the potatoes under the ground for several more weeks and they will be fine. This will toughen them up a little, which is good.
On the other hand, if you’re experiencing a lot of rain, you want to get the potatoes out of the ground so that they don’t rot. Rotten potatoes don’t make good french fries.
Use a big spade or potato fork to dig up your potatoes. Look for the base of the plant, then dig several inches away from the base. There are likely to be four to eight potatoes with each plant.
Occasionally you will stab a potato with your spade or potato fork. This is a bummer…and also kind of funny. Throw those stabbed potatoes into a separate box and eat these potatoes first.
They say Green potatoes can make you sick. Potatoes turn green when they are exposed to light. Some people say to throw away any potato that has even a little green on it. I just cut off the green part and eat the rest. I have lived to tell about it.
Russet or kennebec potatoes store the best for a longer period of time. We usually eat up our red potatoes and yukon gold potatoes first and keep the brown potatoes in storage longer.
To prepare your potatoes for storing, lay them singularly on a newspaper or old sheet in a darkish room. Cover them with another newspaper or sheet and let them sit this way for about a week. This will help “harden them off”. Their skins will toughen up, which will help them keep longer.
After your potatoes have been hardened off, put them into covered boxes or baskets. We usually put about 15-20 pounds in each box.
It is VERY important that the containers for your potatoes do not allow any light in. Light will cause the potatoes to sprout. Without light, potatoes will not sprout for months.
Place your containers in a dark, cool room. We have a room in our basement that has been great for storing potatoes. It doesn’t have windows to allow any light in. It is cool but not cold.
Cold potatoes will “sugar”. That’s why you don’t put potatoes in the refrigerator.
You may want to occasionally sift through your potatoes to check for any that may be rotting. One rotten potato can cause the whole box to rot. It stinks (literally).
Potatoes will keep well for several months if stored correctly. Ours usually last until about March, at which time we use the remaining potatoes for our seed potatoes!
Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
George S. PattonApril 22, 2014 at 8:18 am #10181
Great subject Gypsy.
Also – don’t store your potatoes with your onions. They don’t get along
If you spike a potato when digging them up, and you have the space, plant it in a container inside with good light and they will grow over winter.
If you have the time, space, funds and inclination a root cellar is very useful for bulk storage of many things.April 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm #10223
I grow the small potatoes almost all year long here in Florida.April 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm #10276
Hmmm, my potatoes sprout in a covered wooden bin in my dark pantry. Send up long spooky white sprouts out through the vent holes (pegboard in back) like an octopus looking for prey…April 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm #10277
wildartist, so you think they really don’t need much sun?April 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm #10278
An older (well, OK, my age) gentleman told me his family just dug a trench, filled it with citron melons and watermelon, covered it with thick straw, then heaped soil on it about two feet high. This was in Oklahoma. They kept over the winter, and were fed to the hogs. Others have stored cabbage this way.
Also, saw some plans for setting a metal garbage can into the ground on an angle (in a well drained area), covering it over with a pile of earth. When you need the stored veggies, just dig through the earth over the lid, and take out what you need. Haven’t tried it yet.
Unfortunately, we do not have a basement. Would be ideal. In the North Country, my parents stored their veggies and apples on shelves in a small concrete block building. Had a light bulb on 24/7 to keep the temp cool but not freezing. Worked well. I think we did put a small electric heater in there overnight when we knew it would be significantly below zero.April 22, 2014 at 6:33 pm #10281
Wildartist – if your potatoes are doing that then it is not cool enough for them – that is why they are sprouting. Successful potato storage is cool and dark. I’ve also stored them in cool, dark in white play sand.April 22, 2014 at 8:04 pm #10290
Thanks, tweva. You’re right, it’s in a corner of the kitchen, so room temp prevails.April 23, 2014 at 7:07 pm #10485
In some rural areas here, potato is still being stored in “ground holes”. It need to be stored not in big stacks (piles) there (because then temperature rises too much in middle of stack and too much pressure) and potato needs to be not damaged.
Much better way is to store it in cellar partially dig in ground.April 23, 2014 at 7:47 pm #10492
All info on root cellaring is very interesting, thanks.
What vegetables you can’t store in a root cellar you can store with lactic acid fermentation.
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